Knowing your target customer, or in this case, reader, is the foundation to producing a successful business blog, and it’s time every business understood that content marketing is the new marketing black and if you don’t have a blog attached to your business site then you need to start… NOW!
Identify your audience
According to The Beginner’s Guide to Blogging & Content Marketing Strategy, if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you can’t target and refine your message.
Describe your target reader in terms of demographics, interests, careers, hobbies, geography or whatever else is relevant to your business. Once an audience is defined, you can refine the relevant content to target readers.
It’s important to set the goals you want to accomplish with your business blog. Without them you’re just
pissing writing in the wind. Are you trying to convert readers to buyers, build an email marketing list or just increasing brand exposure? These goals will determine the content you produce. For instance, if you’re looking for readers to take a specific action, your posts should include a strong call to action. On the other hand, if you’re simply trying to enhance brand recognition, your focus will be more on delivering valuable content with no built-in sales connection. TIP: Give away your content for free – a free PDF with no form is a great way to create shareable content and appear trustworthy. Trust me (come on, laugh at that).
Create an editorial calendar
One of the most essential tactics of running a successful blog, and often overlooked, is an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is essentially a long-term content schedule that defines the type and frequency of content over a period of time. Plan your content to coincide with important or newsworthy industry happenings and, of course, events, milestones and accomplishments specific to your business. It’s also a good idea to try and stay and consistent with the timing of your posts – i.e. How To posts on Mondays, list posts on Wednesdays, and maybe something funny on a Friday. And yes – that’s what we do.
An editorial calendar forces publishers to think about the type of content they’re producing in advance and can be a catalyst for a structured series, such as a weekly link round-up or a daily theme, wrote Gerard McGarry, on ProBlogger.net. You can use any method that makes sense to you: a day planner, an Excel spreadsheet, or even a Microsoft Outlook calendar.
To create an editorial calendar:
- Identify broad topics and themes you want to cover and possible themes.
- Place any industry events or relevant happenings on the calendar so that you can schedule content around them.
- Fill in the calendar with specific titles, topics and content types.
Make sure you read How to Creat a Successful Editorial Calendar
Share, share and share again
Expert bloggers know a great content strategy doesn’t end with the blog. Once you’ve established an editorial calendar and begin producing topic-focused content, share it. Make use of social media channels to build links, awareness and–let’s not forget–your reader base. You can republish your content on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and many other networks.
You can also re-purpose your content by reformatting it into slideshows, webinars, PDFs and even videos. If you’ve written a series of posts focused on a central topic, repurpose that content into an ebook and offer it as a benefit to new subscribers to your email list. Or simply publish it for free and offer it as marketing collateral on other websites. Make use of SlideShare.net, DocStoc.com and the tons of document-sharing sites that will publish your expert business content for the world to see.
The give and take of guest blogging
While you have a lot of valuable information to share, one of the great things about blogging is that it’s a whole community of like-minded folks. Chances are there are others in your industry who are blogging themselves. Featuring other voices on your business blog can help you build valuable connections and offer more free advice to your readers.
Guest blogging, or guest contributing, is a give-and-take type of thing. Having guest contributors on your own blog can lend it greater credibility among readers, especially if you’ve secured a well-known blogger. Guest contributors also usually come with their own set of social contacts, and they’re likely to share the content posted on your blog with their network–earning both you and them more exposure. Likewise, offering to write a guest post for another blog, can be a quick and easy way to spread your name and message and earn a backlink to your own site.
If you’re looking for guest contributors, whether for single posts or as regular bloggers, start by posting an announcement on your blog. Your own reader base is likely to contain at least a few folks with some expertise to share. You can also reach out to your peers through their own websites or social media profiles.
Quick tip: Speakers and authors who work in your industry love to write guest posts.
Also, read How and Why You Should be Guest Blogging
Frequency vs. consistency
Now that we’ve nailed down all those details, one major question is probably still lurking: How often do you post? Ask five different “experts” and you could get five different answers. The answer for your blog, of course, depends on your industry, the reason you’re publishing the blog and the amount of time you have to maintain it. (Although you should never let time alone dictate your frequency.)
Perhaps more important than frequency is consistency. Whether you post once per week or three times per week, you should remain consistent so your readers know what to expect from you. BloggingPro recommends a frequency of two to five posts per week for new blogs with reader growth as a primary goal.
Establishing the next great business blog isn’t an overnight accomplishment. It takes time to establish solid footing in the blogging world. If you’re starting a business blog, try to set a plan and stick to it for at least six months, but don’t give up completely for at least a year. Re-evaluate and adjust your plan once a month or quarterly. Remember, perseverance is a primary factor in your success.